Alcoholics Anonymous Essays

as cited in Fiorentine, 1999) this fails to take into consideration the fact that between eight-seven and ninety-five percent of new members drop out within the first year (Bufe, 1998; Galaif & Sussman, 1995).Mc Intire (2000) questions the validity of these high attrition rates by stating that many first time attendees are not alcoholics seeking help, but rather are friends and family members there to lend support to an alcoholic member or other people (students, professionals) seeking information.

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While it is unrealistic to suggest that in order to be considered effective AA must work for everyone, these large and rapid dropout rates do suggest that the current reliance on AA as the mandated treatment of choice for alcoholism should be questioned.

Relapse Seventy to ninety percent of people with alcohol problems will relapse (Hodgins in lecture, Psyc 501.13) and these lapses in abstinence have been shown to be more problematic for AA members than for non-members.

Founded in Akron, Ohio, in 1935 by two alcoholics, Bill Wilson and Dr.

Robert Smith, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has grown to become the most popular self-help organization in the world for individuals with alcohol-related problems (Mc Crady, Horvath & Delaney, 2003).

This may well be a contributing factor to AA’s high attrition rates and leaves perhaps the most vulnerable alcoholics to slip through yet another crack.

Human Biology Essay Competition - Alcoholics Anonymous Essays

Natural Recovery Still further evidence against AA’s efficacy as a treatment for alcoholism is found in the documented rates of spontaneous remission or natural recovery.However, it is crucial to remember that popularity does not equal efficacy and in light of the numbers of people choosing or being referred to AA it is important to determine whether or not the program is an effective treatment for alcoholism.Despite decades of research, the answer to the question “Does Alcoholics Anonymous work? While anecdotal and correlational data suggests AA attendance is associated with decreased drinking and maintenance of sobriety (Connors, Tonigan & Millar, 2001; James, 1978; Emerick, 1987; Mc Bride, 1991; Pettinati, Sugerman, Di Donato & Maurer, 1982) empirical research has failed to support the efficacy of AA over other alcoholism treatments (Bebbington, 1976; Miller & Hester, 1986) and in some cases no treatment at all (Kownacki & Shadish, 1999; Miller, 1997).This becomes important when one considers that over one third of AA members are coerced into attendance by courts, prisons and employee assistance programs (Bufe, 1998).(2) Successful outcomes attributed, by correlational studies, to Alcoholics Anonymous may instead be the result of pre-existing personal factors, such as an individuals motivation to succeed in treatment and a belief that the program will work for them.Latest figures indicate that there are 2.2 million members worldwide, ninety-seven thousand of which live in Canada (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services website, March 10, 2003).For many people, self-help towards abstinence through AA is the only treatment for alcoholism they receive and for others the program serves as an adjunct and/or follow-up to professional treatment (Tonigan & Hiller-Sturmhofel, 1994).Taken together, these findings seem to imply that with its central belief that an alcoholic is powerless to control his/her drinking, AA is unable to provide members with skills that will allow them to effectively cope with lapses in abstinence and this leaves them vulnerable to a self-fulfilling prophecy of uncontrollable drinking and more severe relapses.An important question that remains to be answered is how attrition is related to relapse.Upon comparison of the figures above with AA’s success rates where it is estimated that between 2.9% and 7% of those who have attend AA achieve long term sobriety (Bufe, 1998) and that between 50% and 68% of active members become sober or drink significantly less (Emrick, 1987) it seems evident that AA at best is no more effective as a treatment for alcoholism than natural recovery.Conclusions Based on the literature reviewed here there are several conclusions that can be drawn about AA as a treatment for alcoholism: 1.


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